Love: Wendy Bell & Geoff Ellington

September 6, 2014, in Ventnor, New Jersey

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Will you marry me? Wendy Bell and Geoff Ellington got engaged at a WXPN XPoNential Festival festival in 2013.

Hello there

Between affixing wristbands to WXPN members at the July 2007 XPoNential Music Festival, Wendy and Geoff kept noticing each other.

Once the day's volunteer duties were done, Wendy joined her girlfriends. But two hours later came a tap on her shoulder.

"Would you like to join me on my blanket?" Geoff asked.

Her friends understood her decision to leave them.

A few hours of listening and dancing later, Geoff put his arm around Wendy. It made her extremely curious.

"I just really wanted to see how he kissed," she remembered. So she found out. "Yeah, I was happy."

It wasn't just Geoff's lip skills. "My first impression of him - besides the fact that he's a very, very good-looking man - is that he was very kind. Gentle and kind and polite. He's just lovely," said Wendy, a pediatric nurse for Bayada Home Health Care, then living in West Chester.

"We had so much in common - the music, the volunteering, the love of WXPN," said Geoff, a chiropractor who lived in Pennsville, N.J. "She was just a fascinating girl, with her knowledge of the music, and her dancing. She was very alive."

Wendy went home in a joy-induced haze. Could Geoff really be as wonderful as he seemed? Or was she filling in some blanks in her own head?

Back at the festival's Camden Ferry entrance gates for more volunteer banding the next morning, there was Geoff again.

He brought her coffee.

From then on, they were together as much as raising their then-teenage children from previous marriages allowed.

Wendy's son, Sam, is now 23; Geoff's sons Sean, Chris, and Ryan are now 24, 22, and 20, respectively.

 

How does forever sound?

Geoff, now 56, and Wendy, 58, enjoy the music and their volunteer work at every XPoNential Festival. But 2013's was special.

At Geoff's signal, student marketing assistant Sarah radioed XPN and festival host David Dye with a request to stall the start of the next act.

The host did his part, and Geoff tried to do his. "I'm asking her to marry me, but I can't get her attention," he said.

That's because word of his plans had spread around to other volunteers and DJs, and all eyes were on the couple.

"Why is everyone looking at us?" Wendy asked. "There's Bob Bumbera! There's Helen Leicht!"

"Honey, look at me," Geoff pleaded.

As she finally did, Geoff knelt in front of her.

"What's happening?" she asked.

"Six years ago I asked you to join me on my blanket. Would you like to join me in marriage?"

Her yes was immediately conveyed to Dye, who announced it to the crowd.

"I was still giving her the ring and standing up from being on one knee when our friends started holding up signs: Mazel tov! Congratulations! They met here in 2007!"

 

It was so them

The couple wed at sunset on what's always been Wendy's favorite beach: Dorset, in Ventnor. It's a spot Geoff now loves, too.

"For her 53d birthday, I bought her a surfboard so we could learn to surf together there," he said. So frequent were their trips that they got to know the local ice cream man, Guy, who was among their 40 guests.

Geoff, who was raised Baptist, built his Jewish bride a bamboo chuppah for their ecumenical ceremony, officiated by Hamilton Township Deputy Mayor Amy Gatto.

Wendy's niece, Taylor, did her hair.

Two weeks after the engagement, Wendy was returning a plate at T.J. Maxx when a lacy white tea-length dress caught her eye. It was exactly what she wanted, and it was $35. Two weeks before her wedding, a long lace dress called to her at Marshalls. It cost $20. "I figured for $55, I could do the Hollywood thing," she said.

She wore the long one when her son, Sam, walked her down the aisle. On the way, she stopped to greet each guest, and each handed her a flower. At Geoff's side, Wendy handed the flowers to Debra, her best friend of 46 years, who wrapped the bouquet's stems in ribbon.

Wendy donned the tea-length dress for the reception, held at the beachfront home of the couple's friends Chuck and Debbie.

Chinese lanterns, LED lights, and tiki torches, all in white, decorated the home and lawn. Wendy made centerpieces from beach shells, sand, and floating candles. Denise, her sister-in-law who is more like a sister, helped her plan the reception. But Wendy didn't know about everything.

"Turn toward the beach," Geoff said to his new wife after darkness settled in. Wendy was busy doing what had hooked his heart in the first place. "I want to dance!" she said. "Trust me," Geoff said.

The sky burst into showers of colorful sparks, fireworks set off by Sam and Bryan, Wendy's nephew.

 

Awestruck

Walking down the aisle with one of the two men she loves most, so she could marry the other, was one of the most amazing experiences Wendy has ever had. "It was just overwhelming, and joyous," she said.

A different kind of happy came at ring-exchange. The all-in-one engagement/wedding ring Geoff had made for Wendy gets in the way of her nursing work, so she wears it only on days off. Geoff surprised her with a second ring - a very thin, simple band of alternating diamonds and her emerald birthstone that won't get in the way.

"That's not my ring, what's that?" she whispered. "How did you do this?"

Geoff was in new-husband heaven. "She was in total shock, and that doesn't happen all that often," he said.

 

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Ten years ago, before the couple met, Wendy found a boxed set of wedding invitations, RSVP cards, and thank-you notes at the Exton Goodwill for $2.93. "Maybe these will come in handy one day," she thought.

The splurge: They wish they had splurged on a professional photographer.

 

The getaway

The couple, who now live in a former one-room schoolhouse they are rehabbing together in West Chester, plan a two-week trip to Alaska next summer.

 


Love: BEHIND THE SCENES

Officiant: Amy L. Gatto, deputy mayor of Hamilton Township, Atlantic County

Venue: Ventnor beach, and the home of Chuck and Debbie Leiber, Ventnor

Catering: Chef Michelle Guida, friend of the bride

Photo/Video: Photos were taken by family and friends. Videography was by Monica Mazel, a Penn State junior majoring in dramatic arts.

Dress: T.J. Maxx and Marshalls

 

 


Love: >Inquirer.com

Watch video highlights of Geoff and Wendy's beach wedding and reception at www.inquirer.com/geoff-wendy.


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